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Rescuers rushed to save OAP from river
A RESCUER yesterday told how he tried valiantly to save an elderly man whose mobility scooter plunged into the River Thames.
The victim, named locally as Bill the Busman, fell into the river from the towpath at Abingdon Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
The former bus driver, who was in his 70s, was pulled from the fast-flowing water at about 2.30pm by boatshop owner Fluff Cummings – who said he had rescued the same man in almost identical circumstances last summer – but later died at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
A barman at the Harp pub in Stert Street, where the victim was a regular, said: “Bill was a lovely, lovely man. A great character in the pub.
“For an old boy he would still have a laugh and keep up with the banter with the younger ones.
“It’s a real shame.”
Mr Cummings, 46, who runs Kingcraft chandlery and boat hire centre across the river from the scene of the incident, said it was the second time he had pulled the same man from the water in the past 12 months.
The former Army first aid instructor, whose 16-year-old daughter Zoe dialled 999 and guided police and ambulance helicopters to the scene, said: “Last year I heard my mother-in-law screaming and I took my clothes off and dived in and dragged him out. He was still alive but his scooter was in the river and it was pulled out.”
He added: “On Saturday I was in the workshop and I heard a lot of commotion but just thought it was the cricket club on the other side of the river.
“Then I saw someone in the water four or five feet from the boats and I thought ‘someone will grab him’ but nothing seemed to be happening.
“I rushed back in here and asked my daughter to dial 999 and I got a boat ready. By that time he had gone downstream.”
Mr Cummings used one of his hire boats to reach the man and managed to pull him aboard with the aid of another boat owner.
He said: “He was out of it, gone. I started CPR and kept going for 15 minutes while my daughter was trying to relay information to the police.”
The air ambulance and police helicopter landed at nearby Abingdon Vale Cricket Club – where a match was halted – and took the man to hospital.
The mobility scooter is set to be recovered by police divers this morning.
A police spokesman said officers were called to the scene at 2.35pm and the victim was pronounced dead at the John Radcliffe Hospital at 9pm on Saturday.
She said: “There is nothing to lead us to believe there were any suspicious circumstances.”